The best children's literature festivals in 2018

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Literature festivals for kids Bradford Literature Festival

Star authors, interactive theatre and creative workshops make a great day out for book-lovers young and old.

1. Cardiff Children’s Literature Festival

Literature festivals for kids Cardiff Literature Festival 21-29 April

With The Gruffalo and Paddington storytelling sessions and a Harry Potter party, children of all ages will be kept busy at Cardiff Children’s Literature Festival. Guest authors include Matt Carr (Spyder, Super Spy), singer-songwriter Nick Cope and Lowri Morgan (Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls).

Kids can try creative writing with award-winning fantasy author Catherine Fisher (The Crystal Stair), and help Tom Percival (Perfectly Norman) create a story using a suitcase full of props. Plus, there are craft activities, quizzes and character appearances.

2. Stratford-Upon-Avon Literary Festival

Literature festivals for kids Stratford on Avon Literary Festival 22-29 April

Theatre takes centre stage at the Stratford-Upon-Avon Literary Festival, as you might expect in Shakespeare’s birthplace. Playbox Theatre’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a lively and interactive event for under-eights. James Mayhew (Ella Bella Ballerina) and Jackie Morris (The Snow Leopard) stage an alternative Noah’s Ark. And the new Sarah & Duck puppet show waddles into town.

Author highlights include comedian Harry Hill (Matt Millz), Cathy Cassidy (Daizy Star) and illustrator Axel Scheffler (The Gruffalo). Plus, families can create with Aardman model-makers. There are children’s events all week, and Children’s Day is Sunday 29 April.

3. Barnes Children’s Literature Festival

Literature festivals for kids Barnes Literary Festival 12-13 May

It’s been 50 years since Judith Kerr wrote The Tiger Who Came to Tea, and the 94-year-old author and illustrator will celebrate at London’s biggest children’s literature festival. Kerr will be in conversation with another of Britain’s best-loved authors and illustrators, John Burningham (Chitty Chitty Bang Bang). They are joined in Barnes by a glittering cast of authors and illustrators including Cressida Cowell (How to Train Your Dragon), Frances Hardinge (The Lie Tree), Axel Scheffler (The Gruffalo), Andy Stanton (Mr Gum), Tony Ross (Horrid Henry), Sophie Kinsella and Harry Hill.

Families can also watch Lauren Child’s Ruby Redfort detective series on stage as it makes its London premiere at the festival.

4. International Literature Festival, Dublin

Literature festivals for kids Dublin Literature Festival 19-27 May

A new family and children’s programmer joins the Dublin International Festival this year. Writer Sarah Webb (A Sailor Went to Sea, Sea, Sea: Favourite Rhymes from an Irish Childhood) is a passionate ambassador for children’s literature, so expect to see a varied offering for families.

As well as high-profile authors, playwrights and screenwriters, she promises readings, workshops, performances and film screenings. The full programme will be released soon.

5. Hay Festival

Literature festivals for kids Hay Festival 24 May-3 June

The first Hay Festival sold tickets from a caravan beneath the town’s clock tower for events that mostly took place in local pubs and the British Legion. Nowadays, the likes of Jacqueline Wilson, Chris Riddell, Patrick Ness and Julia Donaldson flock to Hay’s tented village for the UK’s biggest literary gathering. HayDays is the programme for young people, where kids can meet award-winning writers, entertainers, scientists and stars of stage and screen.

Young kids will be kept busy crafting in the Make and Take Tent, while teens can learn and be inspired in Hay Compass. Look out for free events in the BBC Tent, and a walking story happening in real time through Hay town. The official programme is available now.

6. Bradford Lit Fest

Literature festivals for kids Bradford Literature Festival 29 June-8 July

A huge water feature made of 100 fountains in Bradford City Park sets the stage for family fun at this festival. Free events include interactive theatre, storytelling, craft sessions and film screenings – if you’ve a Harry Potter fan you can learn to make his potions!

Look out for author-led events across the city, from storytelling and creative writing to poetry and painting. Plus, Comico will be at the University of Bradford for comic and manga fans. The full festival programme goes live 30 March.

7. Edinburgh International Book Festival

Literature festivals for kids Edinburgh International Book Festival

11-27 August

The Edinburgh Book Festival rubs shoulders with the city’s fringe festival in August, and provides a welcome space to escape the crowds. Relax with an ice cream (or a glass of wine) in the family reading area, large children’s bookshop, or on the grass outside. In past years, the festival has welcomed the likes of Cressida Cowell, Julia Donaldson, Axel Scheffler and Chris Hoy to its tented village.

Kids will love the chance to see their favourite authors with interactive performances and book signings, and they’ll be kept busy creating comics, crafting and debating. There’s also a free drop-in play area for younger kids. The programme is available 7 June.

8. Bath Children’s Literature Festival

Literature festivals for kids Bath Children’s Literature Festival 28 September-7 October

It’s fitting that the birthplace of Jacqueline Wilson should host Europe’s biggest children’s literature festival. You can expect a high-profile list of headline authors – last year’s line-up included Julia Donaldson, Liz Pichon, Cressida Cowell, Nadiya Hussain and Miranda Hart. Plus the whole family can soak up new skills with masterclasses that span creating cartoons, comics and children’s fiction.

Tell the kids to keep their eyes peeled for iconic creations – last year characters from TV shows and films made an appearance, including Doctor Who, Star Wars, Winnie the Pooh, the Mr Men and the Moomins. Sign up to the newsletter via the website to be the first to hear this year’s line-up.

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